What They’re Watching: Meghan McCarthy, PeaceHealth

Meghan McCarthy is the System Director of Community Health at PeaceHealth. McCarthy has over 16 years of experience in community health and wellness and in 2014, she was recognized by the Wellness Council of America as one of the Top 100 Wellness Professionals in the country. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss investing in the community.

“Part of the Affordable Care Act has been to help hospital systems spend their dollars that non-profit healthcare systems would have paid to the federal government. We are required to make investments into the health of the community. For the last you know, previous history, that really been about presenting a dollar amount and saying, “we spent this on the community.” So, you know in a lot of our communities, the healthcare system, we’re frequently the sponsors of a 5K race or a lot of community events. But we can’t show any long term results, or we can’t show any impact. There’s no metrics for some of those things that we do in our community. And the regulations will be changing and now we will be required not only to report the dollar amount that we are spending on the community, but we actually have to show some metrics. We have to show that those investments that we’re making in the community are actually improving the health of the community.

And these are very, very large amounts of money. When you think about the United States as a whole, how much we spend from non-profit healthcare systems, it’s a big piece of pie. The biggest piece of that pie is the differential between what we would get reimbursed at the state level for our government programs. The second piece of that pie is our charity care or when someone walks through the door we take care of them, because that’s part of our mission. And the smallest piece of that pie is really that investment in health. And what we’d like to do is see that piece of the pie get bigger and bigger and bigger. And those are true investments to go upstream in social determinants of health that we can do with that money.”